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Ask the Expert: Back-to-School Steps to Make Sure Your Child Has a Happy, Healthy Smile Throughout the Year

Parents, help your kids start the school year off right by encouraging good nutrition and daily dental habits.



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Summer is winding down and families are busy getting ready for a new school year. While parents are consumed with back to school sales, stocking up on pens, backpacks, and tablet computers, they should also prepare their children to have healthy dental habits while away from home. Dental problems are one of the leading causes of school absence by children in the US. Just as important as having all of the necessary supplies, maintaining strong, healthy teeth and gums is an important part of a successful and productive school year.

Depending on age, some parents may need to prepare their child for afternoon naps and snacks, others for braces and orthodontic work and some for the freedom to make their own food choices throughout the day. No matter the stage of development, establishing good dental habits at home can carry over into good practices at school. Dr. Wilma McPherson of Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry says, “there’s no age at which a child forgets his dental habits once they’ve been routinely established at home from a young age.” There are several ways parents can ensure their children start the school year with a happy, healthy smile.

1. Establish a routine for twice-daily brushing for two minutes, preferably after breakfast and after dinner to clear away food particles. Young children often take easily to set routines and this sort of healthy habit will carry them into their teenage years and beyond. In the early years, be sure to be an active part of your child’s dental hygiene. Singing songs, lending a helping hand or even brushing alongside your child are all ways to instill good technique and reinforce the importance of this daily habit.

2. Be sure to schedule a dental visit around the start of the school year. These appointments can fill up fast, so make it a habit to schedule your fall appointment in early spring to avoid the rush. Children’s bodies grow and change rapidly and their teeth are no exception so make sure to keep your twice yearly dentist appointment. Appointments for Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry can be scheduled directly on the website or by calling 201.434.3002. Children who have early, regular exposure to the dentist often have a more positive relationship with the dentist office as well as fewer cavities throughout life.

3. Make healthy food choices part of your child’s routine. Avoid sticky, sweet or overly starchy foods at home and in your children’s lunch boxes. It can be difficult to regulate what children eat once they leave the house, but many kids will gravitate towards the tastes and snacks they’re used to from their earliest development. Instead of giving your kids sugar-laden processed treats, swap them out for whole fruits, veggie sticks, nuts, and dairy products like cheese sticks. Encourage children to know the consequences of what they eat and how they care for their teeth. Books such as Sugar Bugs present kids with an illustrated look at dental care.

4. It’s impossible to prevent all injuries, but accidents happen…be prepared for emergencies. Keep your pediatric dentist’s office programmed in your phone and feel free to share it with school and daycare personnel. For older children, make sure they’re properly fitted for a sports mouth guard for their competitive play. Discuss emergency plans with your pediatric dentist during your start of year dental appointment. Having a plan in place and questions answered in advance will ease the anxiety of dealing with any accidents.

The Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry team is here to help you start the school year off right. Contact JCPD at 201-434-3002 or visit us online at JCPDentistry.com to learn more about our team and set up an appointment. Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry is Where Little Smiles Come to Shine!

 

Ask the Expert: Back-to-School Month Means It’s Time to Schedule the Kids’ End-of-Year Dental Visits

Too many families leave thousands of dollars on the table with unused medical and dental benefits. Here’s how to make sure you don’t lose any of your hard-earned money before the end of the year.

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Labor Day! It’s our national signal for the end of summer, start of school and beginning preparations for fall. It’s also the time families should be scheduling appointments to make sure they use their medical and dental benefits before the end of the year.

Many of our Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry patients’ parents have dental benefits through an employer-sponsored plan or a plan they purchased through the HealthCare Marketplace courtesy of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. A good portion of these plans have annual benefits that will reset after December 31st, though some plans do have reset times at different points in the year. We encourage our parents to use those dental benefits to the maximum amount each year to make sure they're getting out of their plans everything that they've put into them.

According to the American Dental Association website, 97% of families with PPO dental insurance plans leave money on the table when their plans reset at the end of the benefit year. This is something dental insurance companies count on, but it may help save your family hundreds of dollars to use up dental benefits this year rather than putting off check-ups, cleanings and treatments until next year.

Schedule Check-Ups Now to Beat the Holiday Rush

This back-to-school season is a great time to make sure you're making the most of your annual dental benefits. Often parents will schedule physicals for sports and appointments for vaccinations around this time of the year. This is also a great time to schedule a dental check-up and cleaning. Remember that most plans pay 100% for preventative maintenance. You don't want to leave that money on the table. Making sure your child has her routine check-up, cleaning and x-rays will help reinforce the good dental habits you practice at home. You can schedule the check up and, if needed, still have enough time before the end of the year to schedule any treatment that may be required.

Now is also a good time to schedule appointments bearing in mind holiday schedules. Pediatric dentist offices such as Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry tend to get booked during the four to five weeks before December 31st as parents realize the end of the benefit year is approaching. Avoid this rush by taking care of these appointments during the relatively calmer period of early fall.

Fit in Preventive Care to Maximize Your Dental Coverage

Another thing to remember is that any deductible payments that may be required for your plan will also reset at the end of your benefit year. Deductibles will often cover the whole family so if you or another child has had a treatment that has met the deductible for your family plan, your other child or children may be able to have their treatments without needing to meet a deductible in the same benefit year. You should make appointments for treatments (such as fillings, caps, and extractions) in the same benefit year since you would have already met the deductible for the year. Our Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry office staff can help you to be certain what deductibles are specific to your dental plan.

Take Advantage of Flex Spending

Some of our patients’ parents help pay for their medical and dental expenses with a Flexible Spending Account (FSA). Many FSAs require those funds be used before the end of the benefit year as well. Though some plans allow a grace period or a limited amount of carryover funds, you will want to check your plan specifics or speak with your plan administrator to be certain. It’s important to have a good idea of your medical and dental needs for the year (with some padding for emergencies, of course!) to properly direct funds into your Flexible Spending Accounts. You can work with our office to help plan out the pediatric dental needs for your family so you don't put too much into an FSA in any given benefit year.

Our Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry team is here to help! The friendly front office team at JCPD will help you determine what dental benefits you have available and help formulate a plan for the rest of this year into next year that meets the pediatric dentistry needs of your family.

Contact JCPD at 201-434-3002 or go to JCPDentistry.com to learn more about our team. Jersey City Pediatric Dentistry is where little smiles come to shine!

 

 

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